In the Trenches: Santa's Little Helpers

Real estate professionals share the crazy, funny, and poignant experiences that have happened on the job.
Christmas tree with hands and presents

© Steve Musgrave

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Santa's Little Helpers

My clients were a young couple with three children. It was holiday season, and they were seeking to purchase their first home. As we were driving around looking at properties, I heard one of the children ask, "Dad, what are we going to have for Christmas?" The father sighed and said "Our homes our Christmas gift this year." It broke my heart to hear that. The car went silent, and a tear rolled down my cheek. I knew I had to do something.

We found a home they loved, and the closing date was December 23. I enlisted my husband and two sons, and we drove to Target. We rushed over to the house before my clients arrived to get their keys to their new home. Inside, my family and I set up a little Christmas tree with gifts for the kids. Their surprised and smiling faces made my year. That was more than 20 years ago. Since then, these clients have bought and sold many homes with me.

Lisa Nishioka, ABR, C2EX, Xanadu Real Estate, Portland, Ore.

It Starts With a Call

Coming into the office on a Sunday is usually a chance for me to catch up on some work, chat with an agent or two and organize my meeting calendar. But one Sunday morning, the phone rang. It was a friend who owns an ad agency. He had a client from New York who wanted to purchase a hotel in Miami. My brokerage operates in both Florida and New York, so my friend wondered if I could help. There weren’t any hotels listed on the MLS. I emailed all my agents and asked if they knew of an off-market hotel. The next minute, one of my agents walked into my office with a smile. The night before, he’d had dinner with a friend in South Beach who mentioned that a local hotelier was about to take on a big renovation. I got the owner’s number and called to ask if he had any interest in selling rather than remodeling. His response: “I just talked to my dad, and we decided last night to see if we could sell the hotel rather than spend the $5 million it would cost to renovate.”

I helped my friend’s client purchase the off-market hotel for $17 million, closing in 30 days. The commission was $521,000—the largest in my career. Of course, my agent was compensated well for the referral. Career lessons: Network, manage your sphere of influence and answer the phone.

—Ron Donofrio, GREEN, GRI, Florida Brokers Realty, Beacon, N.Y.